A Different Kind of Blog

I am in my office, preparing to go on Union Rescue Mission’s yearly 2 day Senior Leadership Planning retreat. Normally a very exciting time, a chance to get away, cast a wonderful vision, bond as a team, enjoy a few meals out together. This year is very different, my wife and I are providing the venue, in order to be frugal, I am cooking most of the meals(we have a brave group), and our strategic sessions will be more about surviving this deep recession than casting a powerful vision.

I have to admit I am leaving with a lot of concern, and I say concern because many believe worry is a sin, and I don’t want to sin, but frankly I am worried. Our staff has responded well to wage freezes, a hiring freeze, stopping the employer match to their 401K’s, and even the knowledge that as of March 1st, our wages will be cut 5% across the organization, with some of us possibly reducing our wages by 10%. We’ve reduced costs in our warehouse by 66%, halted renovation and construction projects, and have tried to reduce costs in nearly every area, but with the economic news and recent trends in donations, I am afraid that we have not done enough. That, possibly not enough can be done.

Like many of our friends who have come to us homeless, this was not my plan. When I came to URM it was to be the pinnacle of my career of serving people who are struggling. I did not plan on the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression happening on my watch!

Yesterday, I must admit, I was overwhelmed! Today, after a prayerful night, I know that we need to continue to step up to meet the needs of people coming to us. The number of families is up nearly 400% and climbing, our Chapel is beginning to fill with an overflow of desperate women and their children. They need us! People coming into our Mission looking for a meal is up nearly 40%, 900 a day! Somehow the Lord is providing because for the first time in our history we served 1 Million meals in 12 months with food purchases of only $300,000, a reminder of what Jesus can do with fishes and loaves and willing hearts.

I also realized last night in a prayerful night that I need to go directly to heads of Foundations and personally tell them our dilemma, and plead for help, as that is all I can do and must do.

I also must ask you personally for your help. I am troubled going to the well one more time, but for the sake of our guests, and the sake of Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens Family Center I must. Your giving in December was incredible! We were blessed in so many ways we could not have imagined, but that generosity and the growing bad news must have taken their toll because January’s giving was less than half what we projected, and February’s giving has decreased even more. We at Union Rescue Mission are facing events that I can’t even imagine; widespread layoffs, loss of services, closing of facilities, if this trend continues. The only power I have is to pray to our Lord, and to ask you personally to give what you can. I’d actually like to meet with you personally and talk to you if you would have time to meet with me and ask me questions to understand our circumstance. Please consider giving what you can today so that we can continue together to meet the needs of families with children losing their homes, hungry people needing a meal and an encouraging word. Please feel free to call me at 626-260-4761 or email me at abales@urm.org to schedule and opportunity to meet face to face. Thank you, for taking time to listen.

6 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Blog

  1. Andy, thank you for your honesty with your donors and supporters. At Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, we are also facing an increased need with decreased funding (http://bit.ly/bk6tT). In the midst of this crisis, we are thankful that organizations like yours are also doing all they can to provide services to the men, women and children in need.

    As we band even more closely together with our community, we are hopeful that their continued support will allow us to meet the need and return Central Florida’s homeless back to self-sufficiency.

    Thank you again for what you do!

  2. Frank Clark on


    I don’t mean to sound trite but this moment is an opportunity, a time to find out where God is calling us all, not just you or URM … and, it is a time to find out how this community of ours will respond in these, the hardest of times, to the “least of our own” …

    I don’t know how you do it all … I hope you have people around you that will continue to support your vision … not one that says we have to settle for less but one that remembers the graciousness of God and responds in kind.


  3. Thank you, Frank. I agree. Will this bring the heart change LA needs? Will it move us to a day when we won’t settle for human beings living on the streets? Will we live up to being the City of Angels? Thanks for your prayers.

  4. Peter Lau on

    Hey Andy,

    I had your card in my wallet for two weeks since you came to our church (FCBC). Last week, Pastor Chris preached to us and again the congregation and I were reminded about the needs of URM.

    I told myself I been too busy and my efforts would only be a drop in the bucket…Sorry
    but I finally signed up for monthly donations.

    Hang in there! I will remember you in my prayers.

  5. Thank you, Peter! I hope you can come for a visit to Hope Gardens and URM. Your response is very encouraging during these challenging times. God bless you!

  6. Thanks to Florida coalition for your excellent work. Keep it up and thanks for the encouraging words. They mean a lot during these difficult times.

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